Library Checkout and Other Late May Happenings

The libraries I use have extended their closure until at least the end of July, and my stockpile is dwindling. Will I have cleared the decks before we get too far into the summer? Stay tuned to find out…

Meanwhile, we took advantage of the fine weather by having a jaunt to the Sandleford Warren site where Watership Down opens. This circular countryside walk of nearly 8 miles, via Greenham Common and back, took me further from home yesterday than I’ve been in about 10 weeks. We didn’t see any rabbits, but we did see this gorgeous hare.

My husband keeps baking – what a shame! We were meant to be spending a few days in France with my mother last week, so we had some Breton treats anyway (savory crêpes and Far Breton, a custard and prune tart), and yesterday while I was napping he for no reason produced a blackberry frangipane tart.

The Hay Festival went digital this year, so I’ve been able to ‘attend’ for the first time ever. On Friday I had my first of three events: Steve Silberman interviewing Dara McAnulty about his Diary of a Young Naturalist, which I’ll be reviewing for Shiny New Books. He’s autistic, and an inspiring 16-year-old Greta Thunberg type. Next week I’ll see John Troyer on Thursday and Roman Krznaric on Saturday. All the talks are FREE, so see if anything catches your eye on the schedule link above.

In general, I’ve been spoiled with live events recently. Each week we watch the Bookshop Band’s Friday night lockdown concert on Facebook (there have actually been seven now); they’ve played a lot of old favorites as well as newer material that hasn’t been recorded or that I’ve never heard before. We’ve also been to a few live gigs from Edgelarks and Megson – helpfully, these three folk acts are all couples, so they can still perform together.

Today we’ll be watching the second installment of the Folk on Foot Front Room Festival (also through Facebook). We had a great time watching most of the first one on Easter Monday, and an encore has quickly been arranged. Last month’s show was a real who’s-who of British folk music. There are a few more acts we’re keen to see today. Again, it’s free, though they welcome donations to be split among the artists and charity. It runs 2‒10 p.m. (BST) today, which is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you’re on the east coast of North America, so you have time to join in if you are stuck at home for the holiday.


Back to the library books…

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part, and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).



  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Oleander, Jacaranda by Penelope Lively
  • Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels


  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl


  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo [set aside temporarily]
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle [set aside temporarily]
  • Property by Valerie Martin


  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese


  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Becoming a Man by Paul Monette
  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré


  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler


Have you run out of library books yet?

How have you been passing these May days?

29 responses

  1. Carolyn Anthony | Reply

    Yes, I ran out of library books ages ago. I keenly miss our libraries, not only for books but also for DVDs. So I’ve been calling neighbors and borrowing, as well as lending, from our personal libraries. What pleasant discoveries I’ve made, in friendships and literature alike!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carolyn anthony | Reply

    End of July!!!!! Awful! Don’t know what it is here yet.

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Well, at least that’s the automatic new due date they’ve put on all my loans (July 31st). They may well reassess the situation before then. I know some library systems in North America are starting a curbside pickup service for reserved items. ________________________________


  3. I ran out of library books months ago 😦 although I can still borrow e-books and audiobooks (I don’t use their ebook system because hate reading on the ipad). Can’t wait for my library to reopen but no indication yet of when that will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not tried my library’s e-book borrowing system yet. However, I have 400+ books on Kindle, most of which I got free over the years from NetGalley and Edelweiss, so getting more e-books is a recipe for them being forgotten about!


  4. Delicious sounding (and looking) treats!

    I read the Galloway a couple of years ago and admired it very much. A tough read but well worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It and the Frame strike me as being very similar, which is perhaps why I keep shunting them off to future months. Before the end of this summer I’m sure they’ll make their way up the pile.


  5. Still have a few library books left–from a sale at the library, actually, so they’re all mine. Starting next month our library is doing curb-side pickup, which is like heaven! So, I’ll be able to put a bunch of books on hold, and get my hands on them that way. I love that your husband is baking such wonderful sounding goodies–count yourself lucky. We will be getting carry-out for a (Memorial Day) holiday dinner tonight, I’m so tired of cooking! I’m finishing up Amy Jo Burns’ debut novel SHINER today–I wonder when it will come to England; I’m sure it will, it’s getting lots of good press. The language is lovely; her being a memoirist, first, contributes, I think. It’s maybe a little bit more melodramatic/women’s fiction than I usually read, but I’m enjoying it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard about curbside pickup in other parts of the States and Canada. An intriguing idea, but unlikely to take off here (less of a car culture in general, and it’s a bus lane outside our library). I hope by summer’s end there will be a plan to gradually reopen the service.

      I’d heard of Shiner but was unsure about it. Good to have your recommendation! I hope it’ll make it across soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light has been keeping me out of mischief. Mantel is a genius, no other word for it.
    Your husband’s cooking sounds superb – my own lovely husband would burn water!


    1. I only had to fend for myself in the kitchen during my MA year. I am very glad to leave the cooking to someone else! I occasionally like to have a go at baking from a recipe, though.

      I’ve had the Mantel out from the library since March, but left it off my list this time because I’m neither reading nor skimming it; through some combination thereof I got to p. 200, but I don’t know if I’ll get further. My habit of hopping between lots of books doesn’t really work with a book so large and involved.


  7. I’ve never actually been to Hay, so ironically enough this year I’m getting my first chance to attend, virtually. It’s rather wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’ve been to Hay-on-Wye six times but never for the festival — I don’t think I’d like it, actually, as it would be far too busy in the town to enjoy the shops and cafes. Brilliant to be able to attend virtually, though.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Your husband is baking, mine suddenly insisted on mending the toilet this weekend!! (He did manage to do this, saved loads of money, is massively proud and I will own up to being impressed and owe him a takeaway!) I love Hay outside the festival but think it would be too much of a bun fight. I’ve been rubbish at watching or joining any events, though, preferring to curl up with a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a useful husband you have! Both of us are hopeless at DIY, I’m afraid. But I do get fresh bread and cakes all the time, plus up to two hot meals a day. (My husband has always been the chef in our household.)

      I can find literary and music festivals a bit overwhelming, so it’s nice being able to pick and choose which discrete events to participate in from the comfort of my own home. And of course, curling up with a book is just as valid a way of spending an evening or bank holiday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no, he’s awful at DIY normally, I have to do anything practical and I’m not great at it myself. But he got the bit between his teeth with this one and would NOT get a plumber in!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m loving the Hay Festival. Maggie O’Farrell was wonderful, and Natalie Haynes and Chris Riddell were the best fun, and so much more to come! I ran out of library books ages ago though. But I’m not without books to read despite that. Just about to start Bernadine Evaristo, so all is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a treat in store!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve read enough already to realise that I have a Good Read here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! One of my top few reads of last year.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, the blackberry frangipane tart looks delicious! What a great husband 🙂

    My local library (volunteer-run rather than council-run) has started a system where you can request books from the catalogue and pick them up from outside the library on certain times/dates. I’ve plenty of books at the moment but if I run out I know they have a copy of Ducks, Newburyport so that should keep me going! Council libraries remain closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very lucky to get fresh bakes, and often two cooked meals a day! He enjoys cooking; I could brush up my skills and do it if I really had to, but I’m glad to leave it to someone else more talented.

      That’s a very interesting system. I think it would be a good way for my library to start offering loans before it can return to its regular hours and full service. (Similar to the ‘curbside pickup’ running in some places in North America.) I’ll see if I can get involved as a volunteer.

      I don’t know if you’re into folk music at all, but the performance by O’Hooley & Tidow was the highlight of yesterday’s festival. Their set starts at about 37 mins:

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love folk music! I’ll check it out 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. buriedinprint | Reply

    What fun you’ve been having! And I’d say that the idea of eating a berry tart is exactly the reason one needs for making a berry tart. We’ve had some very hot days this week and I’ve tossed some frozen blackberries into the blender and had a lovely cold berry drink (but that’s not half as comforting). Did I mention before that the Galloway is also on my TBR? My stack is in a right mess currently but in a week or two I would happily co-read if you’re interested. Oh, dear, the Austins are still waiting? I’m afraid you’ll have to either set it aside permanently or restart, as it’s not a story that would work so well with a pause (you’ll just become tremendously impatient with Meggie, who’s bothersome by nature in this circumstance, when you return). And here I was sure you’d fall in love with this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for taunting you with a sugary treat! At least the fruit part is healthy, right? 🙂

      Sure, I’d be happy to pick up the Galloway some time in June. I can’t promise to read it quickly, though.

      I was enjoying the Austins’ story well enough. She’d recently joined the household and was starting to cause some trouble at the point where I left off. If I can just make myself pick it back up I’m sure I can polish it off in a jiffy.


      1. buriedinprint

        Hahaha. Even photographs were tempting back in February but my brain is over-ruling my gut now and it’s much easier. Will the habit stick? I dunno, but in the meantime, I am eating fruit again, as well as some 85% chocolate, and I’m feeling sooo much better in many ways. I’ll have a look at the Galloway sometime soon, as I think it’s kinda experimental, so I might need to read more quickly than usual. Otherwise I’d be fine with spreading it over a month. The Austin story might yet satisfy then? *crosses fingers* But maybe you’ve not been lucky enough to find any of the other volumes anyhow, so perhaps best to NOT love it too much?


    2. Ah, so was not even fruit allowed on your initial diet? That’s rough! We are loving new season berries with yoghurt.

      Yes, the Galloway is very stylized — the first page has put me off on multiple occasions when I’ve tried to start it. Having a buddy to read along with might be the one thing that gets me through.

      The university library only had this one vintage Austins book, a random one in the “Teaching Practice” collection — a remnant from when they used to have a separate education school on a different campus.


  13. I have been meaning to catch the Bookshop Band – I must try harder! My library books seem to be on indefinite loan – no return dates yet! And peversely, I have little interest in reading any of them at present. There seems to be a pre and post-lockdown divide for me and they fall into the former!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Under normal circumstances, they travel around a lot to festivals and smaller venues. I hope you’ll get to see them live soon. In the meantime, their online gigs have been great, with very impressive sound and picture quality — you’ll feel they’re right in your lounge with you, instead of stuck in Wigtown!

      It’s funny how hunting down and securing books is the most fun part, and sometimes actually reading them doesn’t live up to the initial excitement. I have definitely been much slower about reading the books than I would have been if my library was open and I was keeping an eye on my account waiting for more reservations to come in.

      Liked by 1 person

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